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Rain of Blue Petals

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As he sat in the waiting room, Bogo was a little annoyed to find that Tundratown General Hospital's coffee tasted better than the ZPD's. He'd taken some liberties with Trunchbull's order to question the cheetah as soon as possible after Kathryn had given him the report on his condition. Most of the stitches in his arm had indeed burst, but were easily fixable. It was the very mild hypothermia from wandering round in the Tundratown downpour in a bleeding, emotionally traumatized state that Bogo was waiting for her to treat before beginning the interrogation. Bogo scowled as he stirred his coffee. Interrogation didn't sound right this time. Benjamin was no criminal; he knew that in his gut.

"Captain!" He heard Hopps before he saw her, and she soon rushed into view with McHorn and Higgins behind her. "Sir, where is he?"

Bogo gave the short version of events. "Kathy said he'll be physically okay once she fixes his stitches."
"Is that the injury you were talking about?" Judy looked deeply distressed, which was understandable considering recent events. "And what is he doing in quarantine if he isn't savage?"

"He's mildly hypothermic. Because hypothermia affects the heart rate, it was thought best that they remove his collar until treatment was finished." Bogo glanced at his damp trench coat in the seat next to it. There were faint red stains on the thick fabric. "Has Mayor Swinton been informed?"

"Yes, sir. Chief Trunchbull told her." Hopps said sadly. "I didn't think she'd get that upset. Bellwether was a wreck when she overheard."

"Bellwether?"

"Yeah. Turns out she and Woolton used to date." Higgins said. "Small world, huh?"

Bogo nodded. "What's happening in City Hall now?"

"Swinton managed to get it together enough to start making arrangements for a new Assistant Mayor." McHorn said.

"So soon?"

"Don't be like that. Woolton's death hit her so hard her campaign manager had to push her into doing something about it. Last the chief heard she'd got someone coming in to handle some of Woolton's duties while she's bereaved."

"Ah well, I suppose that's good news." Bogo tugged at his damp pants as they clung to his skin. "But I'm more concerned about Clawhauser. He's deeply traumatized, so we might have to wait to get anything out of him."

"I'd recommend giving it a few hours." Kathryn Bogo walked up at that moment in her pure white coat. Bogo stood up, anxious to hear the update. "The stitches have been fixed and we're applying passive re-warming techniques as we speak."

McHorn took a step forward. "So when can we talk to him?"
"Like I said, a few hours. He fell asleep almost as soon as I finished treating him." Kathryn smiled softly, just like she always did after a patient well treated, especially when that patient was a sweetheart like Ben. "Rest assured that come tomorrow morning he'll be just fine. I must say I'm astounded considering the circumstances." She suppressed a shiver. "Yeah, I saw the news after you brought him here. I can't believe what happened to Woolton… Christ, this damn city. What the hell was he even doing in Bug Burga anyway?"

Bogo grimaced. "I wish I knew, Kathy. Let us know the second he's ready to talk."

"Sure thing, little brother. I've got to get back to work any- what the hell are they doing here?"

Kathryn's face contorted into a contemptuous scowl when she spotted something beyond the four officers. They turned round to see Cunninghorn and two razorbacks stride in through the plain double doors.

"Aw, for God's sake!" McHorn groaned, and Bogo agreed with the sentiment. He knew damn well what Cunninghorn was here for.

Nevertheless he confronted the rhino as soon as the trio reached them. "What are you doing here, Cunninghorn?"

Cunninghorn didn't look as smug as he usually did when he exercised his newfound authority. More than anything he looked slightly ill; chances were he'd seen what was left of Woolton. "What do you think? We're here to bring the cheetah in for questioning."

"I can't allow that." Kathryn said immediately.

Cunninghorn turned his glare in her direction. "Give me one good reason."

The good doctor's gaze hardened. "He'd being treated for hypothermia right now, you can't just take him!"

Cunninghorn snorted. "Nurse Bogo-"

"Doctor."

"- we have a case to close. Are you prepared to go to jail for this predator?"

Bogo had heard enough. He stepped closer to Kathryn and squared his shoulders. "When the doctor says no, I suggest you bloody listen."

Cunninghorn's lip curled as he turned to the buffalo. There were looks of discomfort from their companions on both sides. "I understand that you feel a need to take your sister's side, but I am not going to stonewalled for the sake of this hospital's protocols."

"Then I guess you're going to have to find some other vulnerable predator to coerce, won't you?" Bogo didn't miss a beat.

"Besides, you're currently assigned to the missing fox case, aren't you?" Hopps pointed out.

McHorn shot her a look and then looked Bogo dead in the eye. "Maybe it hasn't sunk into your thick skull yet, but I have a fox and a savage to find, and the last thing I need is some curly horned shish-kebab interfering with my case."

Bogo thought of that shivering, bleeding, scared feline being muzzled and cuffed to a chair under a harsh white light with this bastard looming over him, and made a split decision.

"Fine. Guess I'll just have to take this up with Chief Trunchbull."

He turned his back on the rhino's surprised anger to address his officers. "Until told otherwise, you three will stay here and play guard duty. Clawhauser is not to be left alone while these razorbacks are here. Not for one minute."

Cunninghorn similarly ordered his men to stay in the waiting room until his return, and the captain and commander left the hospital and drove their separate vehicles to Precinct One. Bogo wasn't entirely sure this was going to work. He had Trunchbull's favor, but the capture of Wilde and Woolton's killer were both very high priorities. But Benjamin's wellbeing was on the line, and he had to try. His best bet would be to convince Trunchbull to hold back on arresting the kid until the forensics returned with evidence either incriminating him or absolving him of suspicion. Then there was procedure to consider. Bogo continued to think on how best to approach the coming dispute until they were both in Trunchbull's office and beseeching the chief on opposite ends of the desk.

"Sir, I appreciate that Assistant Mayor Woolton's death is a high priority case, but T.U.S.K. isn't a detective department." He said after several minutes of what was so far a relatively calm debate. "They already have a high priority assignment, and that is the capture of the fugitive Nicholas Wilde. The investigation into Woolton's death is better placed in the hands of-"

"You? You haven't found Antlerson's attacker in the four months since he was attacked, so what makes you think you can find Woolton's killer?" Cunninghorn demanded.

"I was going to say the Homicide Department." Bogo took a deep breath to ease his temper. "They're better suited for handling suspicious deaths. I should add that you haven't found Antlerson's attacker either, or the missing fox. For all we know Antlerson's attacker could be one of the savage jaguars we've already apprehended."

And that was if it even had been a jaguar like Woolton had claimed, but Bogo wasn't going to bring that up without hard proof. Trunchbull stayed silent, his trunk curled like a saxophone, having said nary a word since the debate started.

"Homicide's already got their hands full, you know that." Cunninghorn replied.

"And our detectives are very busy, Captain." Trunchbull said.

Bogo changed tactics. "Then at least wait for Forensics to get back with the DNA results. If there's any evidence that Clawhauser is more than a witness, then you can put him in a holding cell."

"We'd have gotten a statement out of him by now if you hadn't butted in." Cunninghorn said acidly.

"I was not going to stand by and watch you take a patient out of a hospital before they were ready to be discharged!"

Trunchbull's trunk curled further as he straightened in his seat. "I beg your pardon?"

Bogo turned to his superior, pressing the advantage. "When I brought that cheetah to the hospital, most of his stitches had burst and he was mildly hypothermic. He was in the middle of being treated when Cunninghorn tried to arrest him."

Trunchbull eyed the rhino. "Is this true?"

Cunninghorn held his hands up. "You and the mayor both said you wanted this case solved ASAP."

"That doesn't make it necessary to violate procedure, Commander." Trunchbull scolded. "Until he's discharged, we can't bring him in."

"And if we haven't gotten the results by then?" Bogo asked.

"Then we stick to procedure, take him into custody, then keep him there until either we get the results or twenty four hours have passed." Trunchbull said. "When did they say they would release Clawhauser?"

"Next morning was their estimate, sir."

"Then we'll just have to wait until then."

Cunninghorn crossed his arms. "I'll be ready to take him first thing in the morning. We'll get answers out of him within forty-eight hours, sir. One way or another."

Again, the image of Benjamin bleeding and nearly catatonic in the freezing rain entered Bogo's mind. "Sir, with the utmost respect to both of you, I'm not sure having Cunninghorn lead the interrogation is a good idea. Not after what happened last time."

Cunninghorn's entirely body tensed so tightly it was almost shaking. "I already assured you and Mr. Pottermass that it will not happen again, sir."

Trunchbull nodded in response. "And I believe you."

Bogo took a step toward the desk. "Sir, I insist that we do not cause that cheetah any more emotional distress than he has already suffered!"

Cunninghorn planted his hands on the corner of the desk. "Emotional distress? If he were in 'emotional distress', his collar would have shocked him into a frizzball by now! I refuse to delay my investigation just because Captain Bogo here has a bleeding heart!"
Bogo felt a surge of adrenaline and slammed his own hooves on the opposite corner. "I do not have a bleeding heart, Cunninghorn! It would be police misconduct to harass that feline further!"

"I don't give a damn about your warped ideas about police misconduct!" Cunninghorn snarled. "The capture of the fox and Woolton's killer takes priority!"
Trunchbull's trunk rose up to rub his temple as he listened to the increasingly hostile dispute in front of him.

"But not at the expense of innocent civilians, predator or not!" Bogo was getting louder. "Wearing a collar does not make them expendable!"

"Give me strength! You used to believe in the collars as much as anyone! Five years ago you would have muzzled that cheetah yourself!"

"Don't you dare assume what I would and wouldn't have done! I am nothing like you and I never will be! I may have been short-sighted, but you've always been nothing more than a dirty thug with a shiny badge!"

"YOU DON'T KNOW A DAMN THING ABOUT HOW TO DEAL WITH CHOMPERS!"

"YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO-"

"STAND DOWN, BOTH OF YOU!" The desk and its contents shook as Trunchbull slammed down his front feet and shot up. The smaller mammals fell silent and stared at their boss. Cunninghorn's expression was sour, while Bogo was speculating if he hadn't just completely blown it. "Wilde and Woolton are still being considered top priority!" He looked to Cunninghorn, his ears flared. "But Captain Bogo is right! We cannot have this kind of behavior damaging the reputation of the ZPD!"

"Damaging the reputation of the ZPD?" Cunninghorn drawled. "A fox is loose and an Assistant Mayor is dead! Our reputation is already damaged! The only we can mend it is if I catch those bastards!"

"You will catch that fox by the book, and that is final!" Trunchbull sat back down. "In the meantime, I will be assigning the investigation into Woolton's death to Captain Bogo. His is the only available team with experience in homicide investigations, and you already have your own assignment. They will handle Clawhauser when he is released."

For a moment, Bogo was sure that Cunninghorn was going to explode at the elephant, but he somehow kept his voice steady. "The Mayor said she wanted immediate results."

Trunchbull righted the glass paperweight that had been dislodged by his outburst. "If she doesn't approve, then she can take it up with me."

When Cunninghorn fell silent, Bogo thought that was the end of it. He was wrong. "Why do you always take his side, sir?"

Trunchbull stopped in the middle of fixing the pile of paperwork. "What did you say?"

"Ever since his promotion, you have always, always taken his side!" The rhino slashed an arm in Bogo's direction. "There're even rumors that you want him to succeed you as Chief of Police! What about me, huh? You have never once taken my side, with the sole exception being my promotion to T.U.S.K. Commander! How can you disregard me after everything I've done for this city?"

Trunchbull's eyes narrowed. "You want to replace me?"

Cunninghorn very subtly balked. "That isn't quite what I'd meant, sir."

"… Bogo, you are dismissed."

There was no mistaking the quiet anger in his tone. Bogo stood up and left the office as quickly as he could without looking like he was rushing. When he was outside he radioed his team back at the hospital to let them know he was returning, and then slumped against the wall. He'd won the argument in the end, but at the same time he wished he'd won without the shouting match. He shouldn't have let Cunninghorn get to him, but at least the stubby-horned asshat wasn't going to be turning his big mouth on a traumatized and injured feline any time soon.


When Bogo returned to the hospital, he was happy to see that the T.U.S.K. goons had gone, presumably called away by their defeated commander. McHorn and Higgins were still standing by the doorway, just as he'd ordered. "Where is Hopps?" Bogo demanded as he walked over.

"Her parents called. They rang four times before she gave in and picked up the phone." Higgins had propped himself against the wall besides a painting of violets. "From the sounds of it they weren't too happy to find out their daughter had been putting herself at risk by chasing after a fox."

Bogo snorted. After the Little Rodentia incident, he'd experienced Mr. and Mrs. Hopps' persistence first hand. "How is Clawhauser?"

McHorn glanced at the door to Benjamin's room. "Doing better. He's come out of his shock and his core temperature's almost back to normal. Kathy's checking on him just now before she lets us in to talk to him."

With that they waited until Kathryn emerged from the room. "How is he?" Bogo asked.

"He's ready to talk, but please be gentle." She said softly.

Bogo nodded. "McHorn, you're with me. Higgins, you stay out here with Hopps. You two are to make sure no-one else comes in to stir up trouble." By no-one he meant T.U.S.K.

They entered the room to see Benjamin in a thick blanket and a hot drink on the bedside table. Bogo relaxed slightly at the sight of him; the cheetah looked a damned sight better than he did when Bogo had found him in the Tundratown downpour. Even his look of blank shock had diminished somewhat, but there was still a haunted look in his eyes. A part of the buffalo dreaded what the cheetah had to tell him.

"Clawhauser. It's good to see you're recovering." He said. Benjamin looked up, and his eyes seemed to brighten up. "I'm sorry to disturb you, but we need to ask you about what happened in that restaurant."

"Okay." The cheetah said meekly, and reached for his cup. "There's only one chair. Sorry."

"It's okay, kid. I'll stand." McHorn stepped into the corner while Bogo sat in the single padded chair.

"I understand that this has been a very traumatizing time for you." Bogo said after he planted a recording device on the table. "What were you doing in Bug Burga at the time of the murder?" They already knew, but reports demanded every detail.

"It was Mr. Pottermass's way of punishing me for being an unwitting part of Nick's scheme." Benjamin said. "Bug Burga was trashed the night before, and I had to clean the entire place up by myself without the power on. It was a heck of a lot better than being fired, so I accepted it without complaint."

"Why so early?"
Benjamin hesitated. "I couldn't sleep, and the cleanup would take all day. So I decided to just have some donuts, go over there early and get it over with. I'm used to getting up really early, anyway. I worked at another Bug Burga before Pottermass hired me."

"Can you tell me what time you left and what time you got there?"
"I'm not sure when I left, but I got there between four-twenty and half past. Mr. Pottermass showed up at that time."

"Pottermass was there?" Bogo and McHorn exchanged glances. "Why?"

"He said he was making sure I hadn't run off like Nick did." Benjamin clenched his fists for a moment. "He didn't stay long. He just told me not to go into the staff area and drove off before I went inside to get started. I guess he was just warning me against stealing anything."

"Makes sense, I guess." McHorn muttered.

"Anyway, I started by cleaning the outside area, and then went inside to clean the worst of the mess. I…" Benjamin stopped and seemed to go slightly pale as he turned his eyes down to his steaming cocoa. "I don't know what time it was when I saw what happened."

"What did happen?" Bogo asked.

"I went into the kitchen, because that was the only way to get to the cleaning equipment, when I noticed that the door leading to the manager's office and staff restrooms was open. I'm sure it was shut when I first came into the place."

"Wait, didn't you hear anything strange while you were working?" McHorn spoke, frowning. "If the power was out, there wouldn't have been anything to drown out the sounds of Woolton being attacked."

"I had my music on while I was cleaning inside." Benjamin admitted. Bogo remembered the earphones they'd found at the scene. "Listening to Gazelle makes me feel better. Do you guys like her music?"

McHorn shrugged. Bogo cringed inwardly and changed the subject. "Go on."

Benjamin bit his lip. "I thought that the door hadn't been open before, but since I didn't see anyone in the hallway I didn't think much of it. I was about to go back to work when I fell over one of your dart guns."

"Dart guns?"

"Yeah. The police were called in when those guys started trashing the place, and one of them must have left their gun behind. I hit my arm on the counter on the way down and burst my stitches. It must have been a new model, because it looked different from the ones you guys use. It was black and yellow and had some kind of silencer thingy on the end."

Bogo looked up at McHorn again, but the rhino seemed just as puzzled. "No-one in the ZPD uses a dart gun with that description."

"You don't?" Benjamin tilted his head. "It was pretty dark, so I guess I got it wrong. Maybe it was a paintball gun or something."

"What happened next, kid?" McHorn asked.

"Well, my arm was bleeding pretty badly so I went to the manager's office to get some gauze from the first aid kit."

"How did you know there would be a first aid kit in there?"

"The manager at my old Bug Burga kept one in his office, so I just assumed. Anyway, I went to the office to get some gauze, and that's when I-" Benjamin stopped again and pulled the blanket tighter around himself as the memory came back to him. Bogo waited with bated breath. "I saw… I saw that someone was already in there."

"Who?"

"A bear. A great big grizzly bear dressed like some kind of undead bird in a black coat. It's mostly a blur, but I do remember that he was big. Really big."

"How big? Can you give a comparison?"

"Him." Benjamin pointed up at McHorn, who raised his eyebrows. It was unusual for even a polar bear to grow to that size, let alone a grizzly.

"What was he doing?" Bogo asked, his voice softening.

"I wasn't sure at first. His back was to me, and I think his dead bird mask was lying on the floor at the time. It was dark in there, so it took a minute for me to see what he was doing, but I noticed he was holding someone."
"Was Woolton alive at the time?" McHorn asked.

Benjamin was starting to shiver again. "No."

"How do you know?"

The feline's eyes welled up. "He was eating Mr. Woolton."

Bogo failed to stop the "Fuck me." that escaped his mouth.

"He seemed to sense that I was there, and turned his head to look at me. That's when I saw that he was a bear. After that I just… ran. I don't know how long I ran for, or where I ended up. The next thing I remember is you finding me." Benjamin rubbed his moistening eyes. "I'm so sorry, I don't remember anything other than that."

"You were in shock, kid. Don't beat yourself up." McHorn said. Bogo noticed he had a pen and notepad in his hands. "So a grizzly bear in a black coat and an undead bird mask, roughly my height. The size alone should narrow down the list of suspects. Can you remember any more details? What sort of coat was he wearing?"

"I don't know, I only saw the back of it. It was a pretty long coat. If you want, I could try and find a picture of the mask online." Benjamin said.

Bogo shook his head. "We'll handle that. You just work on putting this whole mess behind you. Can you think of any reason why Woolton or that bear would be at Bug Burga?"

"I really have no idea." Benjamin said. He paused, looking troubled. "What was the Assistant Mayor doing there?"

Bogo didn't answer, thinking deeply about the question. What had Woolton been doing in Bug Burga? What was he doing at the fishery or wherever Antlerson had been attacked? What if he had been at the office when Dr. Lemming was killed?

"Do you think you could identify this mammal?" Bogo asked. Benjamin nodded. He was a brave kid, Bogo noted. "Good. I believe we're done here for now. Thank you for your cooperation, you've been very helpful."

"We might be needing to ask some more questions in future, so don't go leaving the city any time soon." McHorn said.

"I won't!" Benjamin shook his head furiously. "I'll probably be at home, I'm being discharged tomorrow."

"Good to know, but more likely we'll be taking you straight to the station for further questioning." Bogo retrieved the recording device and stood up. "See you tomorrow."

The captain and lieutenant started toward the door. "Captain Bogo?"

Bogo paused and turned around. "Yes?"

"I'm sorry if this a bad time, but do you know where I can find some sheet music for Clair de Lune?"

Bogo felt a rush of heat and glanced at McHorn. The rhino just looked mildly bemused. Bogo swallowed and turned back to Benjamin. "Not sure. You could always get it online and print it off."

Benjamin considered this, and then smiled gently. "Yeah, that would work. Thanks."

Despite himself, Bogo smiled back before following McHorn out and shutting the door behind him. Higgins was still outside, and Hopps had returned. She looked up at her superior curiously. "Sir, who's Claire de Lune?"

McHorn frowned and tilted his head at Bogo. "Yeah. Who is 'Claire de Lune?'"

Damn that rabbit's superior hearing, Bogo thought.

He felt McHorn's thick finger tap his shoulder. "May I have a word with you privately?"

The nearest place was a restroom for the handicapped in the next corridor. McHorn locked the door behind him and propped himself against the door, crossing his arms and grimacing at Bogo.

"What is this about, Mac?" Bogo asked for the sake of it.

"You still haven't told me how you know that cheetah."

Bogo sighed. "I met him only once before he showed up at Lemming's office. It was at Pottermass's masked party, you know, the one I absolutely wasn't looking forward to."

"Yeah, you made that quite clear." McHorn said with a smirk.

"Anyway, Clawhauser was one of the staff present. I decided to take a break from the snore-fest and ran into him in Pottermass's library."

"And?" McHorn's scowl returned, deeper than ever.

"We talked, and that's it. I was barely there ten minutes."

"You talked? That's all?"

"Well, I also had a shot at the piano in there. That's why he asked about 'Clair de Lune.'"

"Nothing else?"

Bogo suddenly realized what the lieutenant was insinuating and barely missed punching the mirror above the sink. "McHorn, what the flying fuck do you take me for?!"

McHorn backpedalled. "Woah, easy!"

"We talked! That's it! You know I'm not that kind of gay, so shut it!"

"I'm sorry! I didn't mean that, I swear! Ok, maybe a little bit." McHorn took a step forward. "I just wanted to get all the facts, you know how it is! What if someone else found out, got the wrong idea and reported it to Trunchbull?"

Bogo slowly calmed down, flexing his aching fingers. "I've never screwed with a predator my entire life. You know this."

"I just want to know why you haven't taken your beefy butt off this case by now. Even after what happened five years ago, you're still one of the most by-the-book cops I know, but you're keeping a tight hold on this case even though the mere fact that you know this predator constitutes as a conflict of interest." McHorn took a deep breath. "I'm siding with you no matter what, obviously. I just want to know why this case is so important to you that you'd hide something like this."

Bogo nodded. McHorn was absolutely right. "It's the cheetah. I can't trust anyone else to ensure his safety."

McHorn uncrossed his arms. "So that's it. You're worried Cunninghorn's going to pin a trumped up murder charge on him or something… unless it's not just Cunninghorn you're worried about."

Bogo paced across the small restroom. "Clawhauser's statement indicates that Woolton had broken into a place that a herbivore had no place being in. He also indicated that Woolton might have been armed in some way."

"Armed?"

"The weapon he described is not police issued, or issued to any security organization that I know of. That and the report on the mammals who trashed the place didn't mention paintballs of any sort." Bogo replied.
McHorn's massive body tensed. "You think Woolton might have intended to harm Clawhauser?"

Bogo nodded. "All I think is that someone entered that building with a weapon. It may have been Woolton, or the big bear that killed him, until we find that gun we won't know. I know, it's all conjecture at the moment." He added when McHorn opened his mouth. "But one thing I do know is that I don't trust City Hall."